Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Small, Central Valley community finally gets clean water

For years — too many, residents say — Seville households teetered with unpredictable conditions. Using too much water in the day meant having none at night. One flush too many, and everyone relying on a single well in town was thrown into a dry spell. … The coming summer, however, promises to be a new one altogether for residents in Seville.

Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA makes ‘contorted’ legal argument for permit rule

EPA’s final rule that curtails states’ authority over Clean Water Act permitting of pipelines, hydroelectric dams and other energy projects could run afoul of a 1994 Supreme Court ruling that originally granted states that oversight power.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz finds new focus

The company’s long-term goal is still to complete a project to allow the transfer of up to 1.6 billion gallons of water a year from an aquifer under its land to six Southern California water agencies. But for the short-term, Cadiz is looking toward agricultural development on its 45,000 acres of land about 30 miles northeast of Joshua Tree National Park.

Aquafornia news Environmental Protection Online

Big corporations contribute to water shortages — how can they fix it?

As big corporations consume mass amounts of water, the smaller, local communities near the plants, factories and corporate offices have fewer resources. Water shortages then become prevalent as the corporation continues to use up the nearby sources. … In order to make a meaningful change for smaller communities, big corporations will need to work on alternatives.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: University of California conducting groundwater resilience survey

The University of California, Irvine’s Water Program (Water UCI) has organized a survey of the various California water and groundwater agencies and stakeholders to get a snapshot of where these agencies and stakeholders stand in terms of water resilience, especially groundwater resilience.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $65.8 million in grants to support local water resilience projects

The $65.8 million in grants will help fund projects such as groundwater replenishment and habitat restoration within the Colorado River, Lahontan, San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Ana Proposition 1 funding areas. More than $12 million of this amount targets projects that also help disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, including Tribal governments.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Living near oil and gas wells linked to low birthweight in babies

Researchers analysed the records of nearly 3 million births in California to women living within 6.2 miles (10km) of at least one oil or gas well between 2006 and 2015. … Active and inactive oil and gas sites create myriad environmental hazards including air and water pollutants, noise and excessive lighting, which have all been linked with poor health outcomes.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Our community will have a voice in proposed hydro-electric storage project near Joshua Tree

The proposed Eagle Mountain project went through nearly 10 years of regulatory review, mostly under the Obama administration, with deep investigations of potential impacts and subsequent requirements for some of the most stringent mitigations ever placed on a project. … The one hitch for us? We, the very communities who will be impacted by this project have no real voice.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Seasonal maps provide snapshot of state groundwater levels

The Department of Water Resources produces groundwater level change maps which show groundwater levels in wells throughout the state. When looked at together, these reports give a statewide picture of groundwater conditions and how they change over time – through wet periods or droughts.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

States, Democrats want federal help to clean up old oil wells

Fossil fuel companies going bankrupt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to leave behind thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and some congressional Democrats are calling for a federal program to ensure they’re cleaned up. There are 56,000 known abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S., leaking methane and other air and water pollutants, said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) …

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In Nevada, investors eye underground water storage as a path to profits

Across the Southwest, investors are banking on water scarcity. They are buying up farms and ranches as states explore new programs that could make it easier to sell and transfer water. … Today a new type of investor has started eyeing water in the basin, less intent on building a new community than on supporting existing ones within one of the nation’s fastest growing states.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County weighs fallowing program for Paso basin farmers

Paso Robles has an oversupply of wine grapes, according to growers and winemakers. That’s an existing problem that’s been exacerbated by COVID-19. … According to Jerry Lohr, owner of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and some others in the wine industry, there’s never been a better time to talk about creating a fallowing program for the North County region, which overlies the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: How California’s oil industry may help preserve agriculture in San Joaquin Valley

A study conducted by researchers at Duke University and RTI International found that reusing oil field produced water that has been mixed with surface water to irrigate crops in Kern County’s Cawelo Water District does not pose any major health risks.

Aquafornia news Water Well Journal

New report details managed aquifer recharge benefits

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources released a report on May 14 titled Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Water Security Through Resilience. … The report states USACE and its partners have engaged, or are considering engaging, in the use of MAR in a variety of settings and purposes throughout the United States.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Trump administration seeks uranium mining near Lake Casitas and approves oil drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument

The report could revive past attempts to mine uranium in the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, including a tract of land near Lake Casitas in the Ojai Valley, a source of drinking water for Carpinteria Valley Water District. Many of the report’s recommendations will require additional action before taking effect, such as changes to agency rules or regulations, or passage of legislation.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink

The gravity-fed Friant-Kern Canal that is key to survival for 15,000 east side San Joaquin Valley farms continues to be impacted by subsidence. Land near Porterville appears to be most worrisome where the land has sunk so much due to adjacent water pumping that the canal has lost 60% of its capacity. As of July 2018, it was estimated the canal is approximately 12 feet below the original constructed elevation.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Budget cuts for SGMA funding could hurt farmers later

The governor’s administration in January pitched ambitious proposals to help fund implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and cushion its impacts on farmers and local communities. In the May Revision of the budget, however, all but one funding allocation from an earlier proposition have been withdrawn.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: COVID-19 pandemic and need for clean water at rural homes

As the world continues to grapple with the most devastating public health crises in modern history, the San Joaquin Valley has been hit particularly hard, resulting in mass disarray. Small rural regions and underserved communities are now experiencing threefold the challenges that existed prior to the pandemic.

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Southern Nevada Water Authority: Las Vegas water pipeline plan shelved

Citing conservation gains and a third straw to the bottom of Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Water Authority on Thursday voted to shelve a proposal for a multi-billion pipeline that would have moved water from Northern and Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The vote means the pipeline staunchly opposed by rural communities, American Indian tribes and conservationists is dead – or at least going into a long, deep coma.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Ripon OKs groundwater JPA with SSJID, Escalon

The City of Ripon is now part of the South San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainable Agency. The Ripon City Council recently approved the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement, partnering with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and City of Escalon.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Water authority gives up 30-year proposal to pump groundwater to Las Vegas

The Southern Nevada Water Authority voted Thursday to withdraw all pending groundwater importation applications, return a right-of-way associated with groundwater importation plans to the Bureau of Land Management and take other actions to move the multibillion-dollar groundwater development project — sometimes referred to as the water pipeline project — into “indefinite deferred status.”

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Beacon

Mendocino City Community Services District adopts groundwater ordinance, contingency plan

The Mendocino City Community Services District Board held a special meeting May 18 to vote on their groundwater extraction permit and water shortage contingency plan ordinances.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Tiny bugs can clean valley drinking water but at what price?

If you have a small, drinking water system in the Central Valley that’s full of nitrates, and there are plenty, a company has some bugs to sell you. Specifically, a company called Microvi is looking for a demonstration project in the valley to show that its “biological denitrification” process is feasible for small systems.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Thursday Top of the Scroll: PFAS limits in drinking water to take more than a year, EPA says

The EPA won’t be able to set drinking water limits for two PFAS chemicals in the next year, agency administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Opinion: California should lead the nation in controlling agricultural pollution

Agricultural runoff is one of the largest sources of pollution in the nation’s waterways….In California alone, more than a quarter million residents in largely agricultural areas are served by water systems with degraded groundwater quality.

Announcement

Join Online Groundwater Short Course Starting May 21st
See our events calendar for details & register today!

An online short course starting Thursday will provide registrants the opportunity to learn more about how groundwater is monitored, assessed and sustainably managed.

The class, offered by UC Davis and several other organizations in cooperation with the Water Education Foundation, will be held May 21 and 28, June 4, 18, and 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Will groundwater sustainability plans end the problem of dry drinking water wells?

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

Settlements reached in lawsuits alleging manufacturer contaminated groundwater in El Cajon

The lawsuits concern the alleged contamination via manufacturing process materials stored by Ametek, which manufactured aircraft engine parts for more than 20 years at 790 Greenfield Drive in El Cajon. Plaintiffs allege the materials contaminated groundwater, soil vapor and indoor air at nearby properties.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Water resources management: Developing a water budget

A water budget is an accounting of the rates of the inflows, outflows, and changes in water storage in a specific area; however, as simple as that might sound, developing an accurate water budget can be a difficult and challenging endeavor. To address this problem, the Department of Water Resources has developed a water budget handbook…

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR helps locals by installing ‘eyes underground’

Unlike water production wells, monitoring wells do not remove groundwater, but instead use one or more small diameter pipes placed anywhere from 50 feet to 2,000 feet deep. The pipes house electronic equipment that continuously measures groundwater level information. Groundwater samples can also be manually collected from these wells to check for water quality.

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

Blog: Shrub encroachment on grasslands can increase groundwater recharge

A new study led by Adam Schreiner-McGraw, a postdoctoral hydrology researcher at University of California, Riverside, modeled shrub encroachment on a sloping landscape and reached a startling conclusion: Shrub encroachment on slopes can increase the amount of water that goes into groundwater storage. The effect of shrubs is so powerful that it even counterbalances the lower annual rainfall amounts expected during climate change.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Why I’m visiting the California Capitol to testify on groundwater

My colleagues and I worked with Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), to craft AB 2642, which will create the Multibenefit Land Conversion Incentive Program… This new program will provide incentive payments to farmers and landowners who voluntarily repurpose their agricultural land to other less water-intensive uses for a minimum of 10 years.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Sinking lands, damaged infrastructure: Will better groundwater management end subsidence?

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Small water systems across Monterey County are bracing for the inevitable next drought

In March, the California Department of Water Resources released a nearly completed draft report on the risk of water shortage in rural areas and the drought vulnerability of small systems. … Across the state, Monterey County is among the most vulnerable counties, with one of the largest numbers of highly impacted rural communities, according to the report. Also, the county’s small water systems are on average the 13th most vulnerable out of those of 58 counties.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

Lomita receives grant to remove chemical from drinking water

A grant of up to $2 million will allow Lomita to install a filtration system that removes a potentially carcinogenic chemical from its drinking water, allowing the community to resume using groundwater instead of more expensive imported supplies. The small city had taken its sole well offline last year and drained its 5 million gallon reservoir after the levels of benzene discovered in its groundwater exceeded state drinking water standards.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Protesters ‘SLAPPback’ as water fight boils over

Four years ago, nine activists in the small town of Weed, Calif., were railing against an Oregon timber company threatening the city’s water supply. … Now, the Weed 9 are going one step further. Two weeks ago, they filed a “SLAPPback” lawsuit against the attorneys who represented the timber company. They are seeking damages.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: The tale of two pipelines for desert cities

Nevadans and Utahns won a major economic and environmental victory in mid-April that will help protect air quality along the Wasatch Front and the Great Basin’s fragile water supply –– including Great Salt Lake.

Aquafornia news Coachella Valley Water District

Blog: Reports show increasing groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley

A new article by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) calls efforts to mitigate land subsidence in the Coachella Valley “an emerging success story,” a finding that is echoed by analysis completed by local water agencies.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How reliable are Groundwater Sustainability Plans?

In principle, evaluating the adequacy of these plans to achieve sustainability should also be simple: Does the anticipated reduction in pumping plus increase in recharge equal or exceed the basin’s long-term rate of overdraft? In practice, however, it’s not so simple.

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Agriculture

Blog; The Fox Canyon water market: A market-based tool for groundwater conservation goes live

Following passage of SGMA, The Nature Conservancy received a $1.8 million Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop the Fox Canyon Water Market. TNC, supported by project partners Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency and California Lutheran University, sought to establish a market-driven approach to reduce groundwater pumping.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California appeals court revives water pollution lawsuit

A California appellate court has revived a lawsuit Wednesday from the city of Riverside who claim Black & Decker and several other companies contaminated the local drinking water with chemicals used to make explosive cartridges, flares and rocket fuel.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Crops grown with oilfield water OK’d by water quality board

The recycled oilfield water, blended with regular irrigation water, was tested for more than 140 chemical compounds. And 13 different crops — some grown with the oilfield water, some not —showed no uptake of potentially hazardous chemicals from oil production methods.

Aquafornia news KCET

Farmers hijack community water access despite groundwater act, activists say

These activists say farmers unfairly dominated groundwater sustainability meetings and ultimately steered the planning process in their favor. If the plans are accepted and implemented, they warn, farmers will keep pumping water at unsustainable rates. “All the plans we’ve looked at are going to cause wells to go dry,” said Amanda Monaco, the water policy coordinator for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability…

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Fair water

Fairness – or at least the perception of fairness – could play a determining role in the future of California’s groundwater, according to new research. The study, published in Society and Natural Resources, evaluated 137 surveys of Yolo County farmers to gauge their perceptions of fairness for groundwater allocation strategies and dispute resolution options.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Supreme Court ruling finds old, new middle ground on Clean Water Act’s application to groundwater

The Court decision introduces the concept of a “functional equivalent of a direct discharge” as a guideline for when a point source discharge must obtain a permit. It cites the case of an injection well receiving pollutant discharge that then travels a few feet through groundwater into navigable waters as a clear case of “functional equivalent” to direct discharge.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta Herald

County once again faces severe drought

As Siskiyou County slips back into severe drought, members of Siskiyou County’s Groundwater Advisory Committees met last week to continue drafting groundwater management plans as conservation groups, farmers and other special interest groups brace for another dry summer.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Supreme Court: Kavanaugh takes cues from Scalia in groundwater ruling

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was one of six justices who said permits are required if the pollution at issue amounted to the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge (Greenwire, April 23). But instead of just signing onto the majority opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, Kavanaugh penned his own concurrence saying he agreed with the majority opinion “in full.”

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Measuring groundwater from 300 miles above

Although it isn’t perceptible to the human eye, changes in water mass around the world cause small fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field. This includes water in underground aquifers, which couldn’t be remotely monitored before NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites.

Aquafornia news The Atascadero News

Water company finds PFAS in five Atascadero wells

In February 2020, the Water Board adopted new, lower Response Levels for PFOA and PFOS of 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively. Four of wells previously sampled under the Water Board’s order now had had PFOA levels above this newly adopted Response Level of 10 ppt. Atascadero Mutual Water Company immediately took these wells out of service.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona farmers ‘in limbo’ despite $10 million federal pledge

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved $10 million to help pay for water projects in the farmlands of central Arizona, where growers are bracing for their supply of Colorado River water to be shut off. But those funds, conditionally awarded this month by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, are still subject to negotiations between federal and state officials.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Western Groundwater Congress: Water resources management in the Pajaro Valley Basin

The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency has been working toward sustainable management of the Pajaro Valley’s water resources. At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, General Manager Brian Lockwood discussed the projects and programs the Agency is implementing as they work towards achieving groundwater sustainability.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Clean Water Act covers groundwater discharges, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Clean Water Act applies to some pollutants that reach the sea and other protected waters indirectly through groundwater. The case, County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, No. 18-260, concerned a wastewater treatment plant on Maui, Hawaii, that used injection wells to dispose of some four million gallons of treated sewage each day…

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $25.4 million in grants to support local water supply projects

The funding will support projects such as groundwater recharge and stormwater management located near Fresno and Bakersfield, as well as California’s North Coast. More than half of the funding will be awarded for projects that help disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, including Tribal Governments.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California’s Owens Valley tapped for geothermal energy leasing

Geothermal leasing on previously protected federal lands in California’s Owens Valley will move ahead, despite protests from local water districts and environmental groups.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Water availability for San Joaquin Valley farms: A balancing act

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The coming battles over Monterey Peninsula water will be fought on Zoom

From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local water system from private ownership and placing it under the control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video conference. 

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority shelves controversial Las Vegas pipeline project

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is ending a decades-long effort to build a controversial 300-mile pipeline to pump rural groundwater from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. On Thursday afternoon, the water authority confirmed in a statement that it would not appeal a recent court ruling that denied the agency a portion of its water rights.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Western Groundwater Congress: Utilizing excess winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge

Kristin Sicke is Assistant General Manager for Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which manages water supplies for 200,000 acres in western Yolo County, which encompasses Woodland, Davis, and the surrounding area. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Sicke describes the district’s efforts to use winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge in the Yolo subbasin.

Aquafornia news Science

Droughts exposed California’s thirst for groundwater. Now, the state hopes to refill its aquifers

Groundwater science is taking on a new urgency as California and other regions around the world face growing threats from drought—and are increasingly drilling wells to make up for missing rain and snow. Globally, aquifers are “highly stressed” in 17 countries that hold one-quarter of the world’s population… Water and food supplies for billions of people are under threat. California is a case study in the challenges of protecting those resources.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Heart of Santa Cruz: Updates from the State of the San Lorenzo Symposium

Since this year marked the first since 1862 that not a single drop of rain fell in Santa Cruz County during the month of February, efforts to sustainably manage water were at the forefront of the conversation. The symposium kicked off with an introduction from County Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who discussed the ongoing work to develop sustainable groundwater management plans…

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Tribes protest Nevada mine expansion, groundwater pumping plan

Opponents of the mine expansion in Elko County are worried about phase two of the Long Canyon Mine near Wells that includes a dewatering plan that would pump billions of gallons of water annually from an aquifer deep below the Pequop Range and Goshute Valley.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Helping dairy operators protect groundwater

Over the last 20 years, UC research has shown that dairies in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys are potentially major contributors of nitrate and salts in groundwater. To maintain the quality of this irreplaceable natural resource, the California Water Resources Control Board has ramped up regulations to ensure that diary manure and wastewater application isn’t contaminating the aquifer.

Aquafornia news Western Water

With sustainability plans filed, groundwater agencies now must figure out how to pay for them

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years. Now, after submitting those plans to the state in January, groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) must figure how to pay for them.

Aquafornia news Vacaville Reporter

Groundwater education continues for eastern Solano schools

In 2018, a nonprofit freshwater conservation and restoration organization known as The Freshwater Trust contracted with the Solano Resource Conservation District to create hands-on, regionally specific groundwater education lessons to schools located within the Solano County sub-basin. The success of these educational programs has resulted in a renewed partnership between the two organizations…

With Sustainability Plans Filed, Groundwater Agencies Now Must Figure Out How To Pay For Them
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's Prop. 218 taxpayer law and local politics could complicate efforts to finance groundwater improvement projects

A groundwater monitoring well in Colusa County, north of Sacramento. The bill is coming due, literally, to protect and restore groundwater in California.

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop spending $805K in bid to salvage water well

The City of Lathrop built a well in 2003 near what is now River Islands to serve future development in the Mossdale and River Islands areas. But it has yet to function as a regular and contributing part of the city’s water system – mired by water quality issues and problems with the construction of the original well itself.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Eric Averett: Water allocation strategies in the context of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Eric Averett is General Manager with the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, which is one of several water districts within Kern County. … In this presentation from the Western Groundwater Congress, Mr. Averett discusses how his district and Kern County have been grappling with how to establish groundwater pumping allocations.

Aquafornia news Karma

Data centers buzz as COVID-19 bolsters network use, stressing water supplies where they’re tightest

While the coronavirus is giving the planet’s environment a respite from pollution, not all resources are getting a break. Groundwater supplies, particularly in drier parts of the U.S., are being tapped more than ever by the enormous data centers run by Microsoft, Google and other tech giants, which require vast quantities of water for cooling and power generation.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

40 atmospheric rivers have hit West Coast since October, but California had just 1 strong one and it’s paying the price

More than three dozen atmospheric rivers made landfall on the West Coast from fall through early spring, but a lack of strong events in California led to the development of drought conditions in parts of the state.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation issues record of decision on long-term water transfer program

The water transfers could occur on an annual basis sending water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to water users south of the Delta and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Based on annual approvals, the transfers could occur through 2024. In addition, the transfers could occur by various methods, including groundwater substitution, cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.

Aquafornia news KQED News

After 9-month pause, California issuing fracking permits again

State oil and gas regulators have granted permits for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial drilling technique known as fracking, for the first time since last summer. The California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, last week issued permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil, for “well stimulation” work in two Kern County oil fields.

Aquafornia news Military Times

Here’s the latest count of suspected bases with toxic “forever chemicals” in the water

Cancer-linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS, have been confirmed at 328 sites, according to Pentagon data analyzed by Environmental Working Group, and are suspected on about 350 more Defense Department installations and sites.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What’s the plan to end groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley?

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. … This post examines how the plans propose to end overdraft.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Groundwater management hearings set for late April

Registered voters who live in Mendocino have the opportunity and responsibility to decide the direction of groundwater management in Mendocino at two upcoming Mendocino City Community Services District Public Hearings scheduled for April 16 and 27.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Fracking in California gets green light after 9-month pause; Aera Energy receives permits

California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well stimulation in Kern County. … Last July, Gov. Gavin Newsom fired the state’s oil and gas supervisor a day after The Desert Sun reported that the number of fracking permits issued during his first six months in office had doubled compared to the same period under his predecessor…

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: California groundwater wells receive grades for improvement and degradation

In California, groundwater is a major source for drinking and other uses. Identifying where groundwater quality is getting better or worse is essential for managing groundwater resources. A new study conducted by a team from the California Water Science Center, led by Research Hydrologist Bryant Jurgens, assessed areas of improving and degrading groundwater-quality by using a new metric for scoring.

Aquafornia news High Country News

As temperatures rise, Arizona sinks

Arizona is sinking. The combination of groundwater pumping and warmer temperatures is shrinking aquifers and lowering water tables. … Today, where subsidence is worst, groundwater pumping isn’t even monitored, and big agricultural and anti-regulatory ideologues try to stymie any efforts to keep tabs on how much water is being pumped.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Western Groundwater Congress: Quantifying surface water depletion from groundwater pumping

At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Gilbert Barth, PhD, provided quantitative assessments of groundwater resources to address questions associated with water planning, and specializes in model development and calibration with a focus on quantifying changes between surface water and groundwater systems. He’s developed and applied models throughout the Western US for regional, interstate, and international deliberations.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

EPA’s relaxed enforcement amid virus draws mixed state reaction

State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. … The California Environmental Protection Agency said its enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA memo.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves metering standards, requirements

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Depletion of interconnected surface waters: Not that simple

Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of Santa Cruz. In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the depletion of interconnected surface water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: District sues to stop salty water exchange

The James Irrigation District in western Fresno County has sued the Westlands Water District over its plan to let farmers pump salty groundwater into the Mendota Pool in exchange for water from the San Luis Reservoir.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

SGMA to dry up one-fifth of irrigated San Joaquin Valley farmland

The report by David Sunding and David Roland-Holst, professors at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that one-fifth of cultivated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will be permanently lost as groundwater plans take hold and water supplies are severely restricted.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona: Groundwater aquifers can expect a boost from March rains

March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as they’ve been in a decade. The utility is discharging water to make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying aquifers. The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than last year.

Aquafornia news Daily Californian

Addressing arsenic problems in rural California

Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust. It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum allowable concentration.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

DWR report: Groundwater levels continue to rebound from last drought

The changes in groundwater levels in this report illustrate how groundwater changes over time based on hydrologic conditions. A one-year comparison of groundwater levels provides information about the short-term effects of a single wet or dry year, while a multi-year comparison of groundwater levels provides information about trends in groundwater storage. Groundwater is an important component of water budgets throughout the state …

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Groups bring suit over secret approval process for PFAS chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

David Orth gives his observations on how SGMA implementation is playing out in the San Joaquin Valley

David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land, which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and water resource development services. At the California Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his observations having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.

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Aquafornia news San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Former Arizona governor apologizes for failing rural counties on groundwater issues

When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management, he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Significant progress being made in implementing the state’s groundwater law

I remember being surprised when attending a local Groundwater Sustainability Agency meeting and I first saw a schematic that visually depicted the various levels of groundwater underneath one of the Central Valley’s numerous subbasins.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA

Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath their land. Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just about every groundwater sustainability plan filed with the state Jan. 31.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Infrastructure: What’s on tap for California

At the 2020 Kern County Water Summit, California Water Commission Chair Armando Quintero spoke about the role of the commission, gave an update on the Water Storage Investment Program and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and spoke of their new role defined in the water resiliency portfolio.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Military sees surge in sites with ‘forever chemical’ contamination

The military now has at least 651 sites that have been contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense (DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply near numerous military bases.

Aquafornia news KHTS Radio

Santa Clarita Valley Water closing 13 additional wells to comply with new PFAS rules

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Senate Democrats unveil $20B bill to battle ‘forever chemical’ contamination

A new bill from Senate Democrats would roll out $20 billion in funding to remove cancer-linked “forever chemicals” from water as it contaminates supplies across the country.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Groundwater management is a team effort at DWR

Besides reviewing and making final determinations on submitted plans that show how local agencies will manage their groundwater basins for long-term sustainability, DWR staff provide essential resources to local water agencies to help them better understand and manage their local basins. … Below are some examples of DWR staff contributions to groundwater management…

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona Legislature should act on rural groundwater, former Gov. Bruce Babbitt says

Former Gov. Bruce Babbitt is speaking out about widespread problems of excessive groundwater pumping in rural areas of Arizona, saying the state Legislature should give counties and communities the power to protect their rapidly declining aquifers. Babbitt appealed for action during a visit this week to the Willcox area, where heavy pumping for farms has led to falling water tables and left a growing number of families with dry wells.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lithium startup backed by Bill Gates targets Salton Sea

On Monday, Lilac Solutions and the Australian company Controlled Thermal Resources announced they’re partnering to develop a lithium-extraction facility at the Salton Sea. The Australian firm is trying to build the area’s first new geothermal power plant in a decade, a project that would be far more lucrative if the super-heated underground fluid could produce lithium in addition to electricity.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Borrego Valley’s strategy for a negotiated resolution under SGMA

Groundwater is the sole source of water supply for the valley; there isn’t any surface water or imported water available. After decades of excessive pumping, the Borrego Groundwater Basin is considered critically overdrafted and dramatic reductions in pumping – up to 70% by the latest estimate – will be needed to reach sustainability.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: From “extinct” to “prolific”

“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. … Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’ and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land. As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became their economic engine.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A reality check on groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley

This year marks a new phase in California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). At the end of January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their first groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. … This post addresses key questions about groundwater budgets.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

CalGEM public hearing held in Santa Maria allows locals to opine on proposed expansion of Cat Canyon oil production

People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria, chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Report predicts how water losses will hit SJ Valley

San Joaquin Valley farmers say they hope a newly released report will capture the attention of Californians about the potential impact of water shortages in the region. The report, released last week, said water shortages could cause 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland to be fallowed and cost as many as 85,000 jobs.

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

District Court judge reaffirms decision to deny water for Las Vegas pipeline

A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to look in a different direction.”

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Collaboration is the new game in California water

If agriculture in the valley is going to survive, water leaders need to get cozy with new ideas and new allies. And, yes, that means environmentalists.

Aquafornia news Governing

California’s ’salad bowl’ recharges depleted aquifer

A multi-partner water recycling project is helping Monterey, Calif., stabilize and replenish its dwindling groundwater supply. The project could serve as a model for shrinking aquifers in other regions of the country.

Aquafornia news Circle of Bue

Hidden flood risk for San Francisco Bay Area communities lurks underground

As sea levels rise, so do the waters in the bay, which connects to the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate. That relationship between rising ocean levels and rising bay levels is well known. What is less obvious is that groundwater levels are rising as well, adding another variable to the region’s equation of increasing flood risk.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Cuyama Valley carrot growers get the stick

The Cuyama Valley is the driest agricultural region in the county; the valley floor gets just a little more rain than the Sahara. Yet for the past 75 years, this high desert region has been a mecca for water-intensive farming on an industrial scale — first alfalfa, and now carrots, a $69 million annual crop. … Now, to the rescue — belatedly — comes the state Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014…

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Opinion: The fate of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is now “the law of the land (state)” and as such there will be restricted agricultural groundwater pumping throughout the San Joaquin Valley…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A new twist on hydropower could be a key climate solution

The pit was a bustling iron mine once, churning out ore that was shipped by rail to a nearby Kaiser Steel plant. When steel manufacturing declined, Los Angeles County tried to turn the abandoned mine into a massive landfill. Conservationists hope the area will someday become part of Joshua Tree National Park, which surrounds it on three sides. Steve Lowe has a radically different vision.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Maria community meets on the future of oil drilling

People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Study: Water restrictions to mean billions in lost farm revenue

The study by economists David Sunding and David Roland-Holst at UC Berkeley examined the economic impact of two types of restrictions to water supplies for ag: on groundwater pumping as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and future reductions in surface water due to regulatory processes by the state and federal government.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California wants limit for Erin Brockovich chemical in water

The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its 2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.

Aquafornia news KMJ Radio

UC Berkeley water report sinks California farm industry, says Valley assemblyman

The report done by University of California, Berkeley, economists Dr. David Sunding and Dr. David Roland-Holst shows that the California economy will suffer unless responsible, balanced water reforms are enacted in the effort to achieve groundwater sustainability goals in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Military may be bound by state laws on ‘forever chemicals’

The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals” that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Without water we can’t grow anything’: Can small farms survive California’s landmark water law?

The Central Valley is America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of California’s $50bn agriculture industry. But the 2011-2017 drought raised serious questions about the future of that industry and forced the state to grapple with regulating the one thing fueling much of it: groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bills that would strengthen rural groundwater rules die in Arizona Legislature

Two bills that would make it easier for state regulators and county officials to limit well-drilling and groundwater pumping have died in the Arizona Legislature despite support from lawmakers and pleas from county officials who are asking for help to protect their rapidly declining aquifers.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

U.S. considers recycling more wastewater, including from oil and gas fields

Some environmental groups eye the effort suspiciously, fearing the Trump administration will use the project to allow businesses to offload hazardous wastewater in ways that threaten drinking water sources and otherwise risk public health. Businesses including oil and gas developers have urged the Trump administration to allow them more ways to get rid of their increasing volumes of wastewater.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Everything you need to know about California’s historic water law

This year marks the first big deadline for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), as dozens of agencies complete initial plans to protect overdrafted water resources. Here’s what you need to know:

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Court tosses environmental approval for 72,000 Kern County oil wells

A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single, blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells, instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other concerns.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper

Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of seawater intrusion continues slowing down.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Toxic Superfund cleanups decline to more than 30-year low

The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund program was born out of the 1970′s disaster at Love Canal in New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater, spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential emergency declarations.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona Senate committee shelves groundwater bill after debate

State senators heard impassioned pleas from supporters of proposed legislation that would make it easier for Arizona water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas where groundwater levels are falling. But in the end, the bill was set aside, its future uncertain.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Public comment opens for groundwater sustainability plans

Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online. Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they cover and details about the public comment period for that plan.

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Aquafornia news KGET

Arvin issues boil water notice to all customers due to well failure

The Arvin Community Service District has issued a boil water notice to its customers due to mechanical failures at two of its three active wells. … District General Manager Raul Barraza, Jr. said that the district has contractors working on both wells and hopes to have one or both wells back online as soon as possible. He expects the notice will last at least a few days.

Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program

The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Subsidence of the California Aqueduct in the San Joaquin Valley

Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study that addresses specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study corridor… At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an overview of the report.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

Online tool assesses drought risk for residents on private wells, public water systems

California is doing more to preserve its groundwater levels than ever before, but a new, interactive tool by a local water advocacy group suggests it may not be enough. Last Wednesday, Visalia-based Community Water Center … argued that California will experience longer, more severe droughts due to climate change.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Nearly half the country working on PFAS rules as EPA drags feet

More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of federal enforcement. Twenty-three states are writing their own guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California agriculture in 2050: Still feeding people, maybe fewer acres and cows

Water supply concerns, regulations, labor issues, tariffs, climate change, and other challenges have prompted some rather dire predictions about the future of California agriculture. We talked to Dan Sumner—director of the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about his research on California agriculture in 2050.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Arizona weighs water bills, farms push back against reporting data

While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that would require owners of large wells across the state to measure and report how much water they’re pumping.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Groundwater sustainability cuts individual, agricultural use

Do you have something to say about the state-mandated sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural groundwater consumption in Merced County? The Jan. 31 deadline for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day public comment period before the Department of Water Resources reviews it.

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought

This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in California so far, according to climate change experts. Now, there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a drought hits.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Thursday Top of the Scroll: How SGMA could impact area farmers

By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said, while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres. Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley, it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general, north of the Delta is in better shape.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Synthetic chemicals in soils are ‘ticking time bomb’

A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil, according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

New bills focus on measuring groundwater pumping in rural Arizona

Both Republicans and Democrats are backing measures in the Legislature that would enable Arizona to start measuring how much groundwater is pumped in unregulated rural areas where aquifers have been rapidly declining.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

‘Forever chemicals’ trigger widespread closures of water wells

The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County, which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever chemical.”

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do

Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey gets final state OK

Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both verbally and by email.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s multibillion-dollar problem: the toxic legacy of old oil wells

Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

The pros and cons of enhanced geothermal energy systems

Unfortunately, there are few places so well-suited for geothermal energy as the site of the Geysers in California, which was built over an area with naturally occurring steam and a reservoir of hot water. That is why some experts advocate for enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS), which pump water into the ground to tap natural heat sources, creating conditions for geothermal energy in areas where it would otherwise be impossible.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Land bureau may exempt plans from environmental review

The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands would affect the environment, according to a document shared with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental Policy Act,

Aquafornia news The Hill

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking by 2025

A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking, new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California canals damaged by sinking soil, groundwater pumping. New bills aim to help

Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California ag faces a decade of challenges

On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more than doubled in the past 10 years…

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Deadline arrives for critically overdrafted basins

Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to subsidence, which causes damage to critical water infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left entire California communities and farms without safe and reliable local water supplies.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Dairy farmer in Turlock area fined over manure rules

The valley’s massive dairy industry routinely mixes manure-tainted wastewater into the irrigation supplies for corn and other feed crops. The state requires that the volume not exceed what the crops can take up as nutrients.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump administration eyes changes to environmental enforcement

The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Less turf, fewer pools shrink per-home water use in Phoenix area

Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The nuts and bolts of the Central Valley Salts program

At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Local ag warns Corcoran: Suit against Curtimade dairy will have statewide consequences

It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy lined the walls of Corcoran City Council chambers during last night’s city council meeting. Corcoran is currently suing the Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at the height of the drought in 2015.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Groundwater plans are due in California, but the hard work is just getting started

January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

An old well springs to life and Santa Clara homeowners’ nightmare begins

Doug Ridley and Sherry Shen figured their condominium in Santa Clara would serve as a retirement nest egg, drawing enough rental income so they could comfortably travel to the United Kingdom and Asia visiting relatives. Instead, the last two years have turned into a homeowner’s nightmare, thanks to an old artesian well

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agua Caliente tribe sues Coachella Valley water districts, again

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency over groundwater. … In the new complaint filed on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and individual tribal members.

Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino sells 1.14 billion gallons of water to Fontana Water Company

The Chino City Council on Tuesday night approved selling 3,500-acre-feet of surplus groundwater to the Fontana Water Company for more than $2 million. … As of June 2019, the city of Chino’s stored groundwater reserves totaled approximately 120,000-acre-feet, which is equivalent to 31.1 billion gallons of water. 

Aquafornia news ABC30

City of Corcoran sues well-known dairy company for $65 million

The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil and gas wells could cost $9 billion to plug, clean

Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells scattered across California — which includes plugging them, removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators says.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona’s water system for suburban growth heads toward ‘train wreck,’ Babbitt says

A water management district created by a 1993 state law that allowed massive subdivisions to spread into the outer suburbs of Tucson and Phoenix is now heading for a “train wreck,” warns former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

New water recycling projects will help battle Central Coast’s seawater invasion

For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep underground.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

With some oil drilling on hold, lawmaker wants state to do more to prevent releases

The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58 permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells, according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far enough.

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Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers aim to cure valley’s salty soil with $2.5m grant from NSF

A new project out of UC Merced — funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation — seeks to address this problem by developing an innovative, environmentally friendly and economically feasible system to desalinate and reuse agricultural drainage water.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

New film highlights fight for clean drinking water in Valley

Yolanda Cuevas saw herself on the big screen for the first time during the Saturday premiere of “The Great Water Divide: California’s Water Crisis” in Exeter. The short documentary focuses on Tooleville, a hamlet in eastern Tulare County where children can’t wash their hands, dishes or vegetables without supervision because the water is tainted with multiple contaminants.

Aquafornia news Irish Tmes

Are almonds bad for the environment?

A single almond takes about three and half litres of water to produce. Most almonds – an estimated 82 per cent – are grown in drought-afflicted California, where it constitutes a multibillion-dollar industry. The number of almond orchards has doubled in the last 20 years in California.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Groundwater Sustainability Plan evaluation and State Water Board intervention

A joint workshop hosted by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board provides details on how incoming plans will be evaluated and what State Water Board intervention might look like.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California geothermal plan released after leasing spike

One of the biggest indicators of renewed geothermal interest occurred Thursday when the Bureau of Land Management published a final environmental impact statement on a California geothermal leasing area that sat on the shelf for eight years. The statement is for the proposed designation of a 22,805-acre Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area north of Ridgecrest, Calif., and west of Death Valley National Park.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

U.S. food trade increasingly leans on unsustainable groundwater

Konar and her colleagues combined groundwater depletion data with county-level food trade data. They found that, between 2002 and 2012, unsustainable groundwater use increased by 32 percent in products traded domestically. The increase was 38 percent for exported goods. If groundwater is like a bank account, then this is deficit spending.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Desalination emerges as a possible solution for another Monterey County water challenge

The groundwater sustainability plan approved Jan. 9 features a slew of solutions like eradicating thirsty reeds invading the watershed, and proposed pumping limits that could lead to the fallowing of some farmland. Also envisioned are a “wall” against seawater and possibly a new desalination plant that would dwarf the project being pursued by the Monterey Peninsula’s water utility, California American Water.

Aquafornia news Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall

Farmers, large and small, are beginning to grapple with what the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act means for them. One by one, local sustainability plans are starting to go public. Many farmers expect to see cutbacks on pumping once the program is fully implemented in 2040.

Aquafornia news Reuters

California water utility sues U.S. over PFAS contamination from Air Force base

The California-American Water Company accuses the Air Force of having acted negligently by contaminating a water well in Sacramento County with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in firefighting foam it used at a base.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Supervisors extend state of emergency for marijuana-related problems

Siskiyou County supervisors last week supported Sheriff Jon Lopey’s assessment that illegal marijuana grows are detrimental to the health and well being of local residents and approved the extension of a local state of emergency through 2020.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump hails WOTUS overhaul as critics call for investigation

President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former government officials called for an investigation into the scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Two Tulare County towns will be testing ground for ‘innovative’ arsenic-tainted water treatment

A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and present findings… The students will work with a UC Berkeley lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California sues to block Trump administration fracking plans

California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1 million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump administration from issuing new permits in the central part of the state.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Ducey defends Arizona’s record on water, says state has ‘more to do’

Gov. Doug Ducey is touting Arizona’s record on water while also acknowledging the state has “more to do” in some areas. Ducey talked about water policies this week in an interview for The Arizona Republic’s podcast The Gaggle.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

GSP vote set for Jan. 16

After years of planning, discussion and debate, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board will vote on the adoption of the groundwater sustainability plan at its meeting Thursday. … The plan will provide a roadmap to bring the IWV groundwater basin into sustainability by 2040. That includes reducing pumping of the basin to a safe yield of 7,650 acre-feet per year…

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Newsom administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio puts California on course to climate resilience

While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona bills would strengthen rural groundwater rules

State legislators plan to tackle widespread problems of groundwater overpumping in rural Arizona this session, proposing bills that would make it easier to limit well-drilling in farming areas where residents have asked for help from the state to safeguard their dwindling water supplies.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Growers still unclear on how much groundwater they can use

The first question asked at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board meeting on Friday represented the frustration of growers who are still facing the unknown. “It’s 2020,” the grower said, who went on to ask the board, referring to growers, “what can they pump?” The board is still working through the process on how much water growers can pump out of the ground.

Aquafornia news Gilroy Dispatch

Opinion: District to update water charge zones

Because zone changes have the potential to impact many well users, Valley Water conducted extensive stakeholder engagement on the preliminary study recommendations. … The board of directors agreed and directed our team to prepare the survey description to modify the two existing zones, and create two new zones in South County. The board will consider these changes in a public hearing later this year.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

Five water issues to watch in Arizona in 2020

Plenty of work is on the docket for 2020 and beyond to manage and preserve Arizona’s water supply, even if that work might not write history the way last year’s signing of the Drought Contingency Plan did. … The state’s water managers are known for prioritizing predictability and making careful, gradual changes, not erratic or sudden ones. Here are five key issues to watch this year in Arizona water.

Aquafornia news The Grocer

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating… However, the environmental reputation of the almond sector is much less favourable. It was once labelled a “horticultural vampire” by US magazine New Republic for its perceived role in California’s most recent droughts.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Forever litigated ‘forever chemicals’: A guide to PFAS in courts

Court dockets are ballooning with litigation over PFAS, a vexing family of chemicals used in many consumer and industrial products. … Lawyers have compared the legal onslaught to litigation over asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint. Here’s a rundown of key cases.

Aquafornia news Aptos Times

Pajaro Valley to expand delivered water service area

The F-Pipeline Project will construct pipelines to provide supplemental water service to approximately 700 acres of coastal farmland on the seaward side of San Andreas Road. … The purpose is to further reduce groundwater pumping to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona’s water supply a major issue for legislative session

Republican and Democratic Leaders of the Arizona House are again eyeing the state’s water supply as a major issue in the coming legislative session. GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Democratic Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez have both highlighted overpumping in the state’s rural areas as a major issue for lawmakers when return to work on Monday.

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Aquafornia news City Watch LA

Opinion: Dirty water – dirty politics

Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

State of the Estuary: Underappreciated effects of sea-level rise on groundwater levels

When most think of the possible impacts of sea level rise, they think of coastal flooding and the growing risks to shore-based infrastructure — but there’s another sea level rise-related threat that is much less talked about. As sea level rises, so too will groundwater levels in coastal aquifers, and some recent studies have concluded that in some coastal areas, as much or more land could flood as a result of rising groundwater tables than will flood directly from rising tides.

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